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Archive for January, 2009

Times seeks New Deal workers and memories

We’re looking for workers who built roads, schools and canals or created paintings and statues for a federal jobs program during the 1930s and 1940s to share their experiences with us for a story about economic recovery in the New Deal.

If you worked or know living people who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Public Works Administration (PWA), Works Progress Administration (WPA) or other New Deal programs in California, we want to hear what it was like and how it affected you.

E-mail Denis Cuff at or call 925-943-8267.

Many Bay Area public buildings, roads, artworks and parks were created by New Deal work projects, including the Caldecott Tunnel, the Berkeley Rose Garden, the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Alameda County courthouse in Oakland and the Contra Costa Canal.

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009
Under: General | No Comments »

Politicos cheer Obama’s EPA waiver memo

California politicos’ joyful statements are piling up today, now that President Barack Obama has ordered a re-examination of whether California and other states should be allowed to have tougher auto tailpipe emission standards than those set by the federal government.

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“For eight years the Bush Administration stood in the way of progress on energy independence. Today, President Obama made a bold move in our fight to end our dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ordering the review of the Bush Administration’s decision to unjustifiably block California’s efforts to combat global warming and promote the use of cleaner, more efficient vehicles on their roads.

“As a longtime supporter of California’s bold agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions I am pleased by today’s announcement, which sends a clear signal from the Obama Administration regarding their commitment to work in concert with pioneering efforts at the municipal and state level in the fight against climate change.

“We have long recognized the real danger that global warming poses to all of us. Today’s move by the Obama Administration demonstrated that we will no longer put corporate interests before the health and well-being of the people of this country. I am hopeful that an accurate review of this decision by the EPA will provide a growing number of states the much-needed authority to implement stricter emissions standards that are needed to set our country on the path to a greener and more energy secure future.”

More, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, General, Global warming, Karen Bass, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Contra Costa assessor dresses in drag

This is the funniest video I have seen in ages:  Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer appears in drag at a 1999 Christmas party. (See link below.)

I have to say, Gus has pretty good legs. Seriously, though, he must consult a fashion expert the next time he cross-dresses. The shoes are hideous. I hope that hairpiece has been burned. And I won’t even talk about the stockings!

How did I get this video? It surfaced in the wake of stories my colleague Matthias Gafni wrote this week about the $1 million settlement of a civil lawsuit filed against Kramer by a junior assessor. (A jury found Kramer guilty of refusing to promote her because she had filed a sexual and racial harassment complaint against him. An internal investigation cleared him of any harassment.)

The video did not make it into the trial because the judge rightfully viewed it as irrelevant to the allegations.

But it’s still great video where everyone seems to be having a good time. Whatever Gus’ faults may be — and I’ve known him nearly 15 years — he is never afraid to poke fun at himself or anyone else for that matter.

Now, what I want to know is this: Who are all the other men in the back row dressed in drag? Send me the names and I’ll add them to the annotations on the video.

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2009
Under: Contra Costa politics | 8 Comments »

Gitmo to Alcatraz: Sarcastic or stupid?

Inanity erupted in both chambers of Congress yesterday. (Big surprise.)

In the House, it was Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee’s ranking Republican.

“Alcatraz would be a good place to put these people,’’ he said yesterday of the detainees who will have to be moved out of their prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within the next year under an executive order signed Thursday by President Barack Obama. “There’s a lot of discomfort about the idea of bringing the detainees in to the United States. That’s why I’ve suggested Alcatraz.”

In the Senate, it was U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.

“I can’t think of any city or town across this country that will be thrilled to have Khalid Shaikh Mohammed or Abu Zubaydah living down the street,” said the Senate Intelligence Committee’ ranking Republican. “If you really want to bring them back to the United States, people in Missouri and Kansas believe Gitmo is just fine. Folks in San Francisco want it closed. I’d suggest you put them in Alcatraz.”

So… stupid, or sarcastic? Follow me after the jump as we tackle both possibilities… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2009
Under: U.S. House, U.S. Senate, War on Terror | 2 Comments »

Pete Stark on recovery package health provisions

Here’s Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, chairman of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, at a Capitol news conference after yesterday’s markup of the economic stimulus package, speaking about funding for health information technology as well as extensions and subsidies for health coverage for the unemployed:

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2009
Under: Pete Stark, U.S. House | No Comments »

Inauguration 2009: Final thoughts from Farley

Tim Farley

Tim Farley

Martinez resident and inveterate presidential politics junky Tim Farley (also the community and government affairs director for Saint Mary’s College in Moraga) sent these final words from Washington, D.C., where he took his teen-aged son, Vincent, and two of his son’s friends to the swearing-in ceremonies of Barack Obama:

We returned to D.C. on Wednesday. It was a different city. The Metro was easy, no lines and the pace was much slower. We were able to do some traditional tourist activities, the Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, The Smithsonian and so forth.

CLICK ON THE RIGHT FOR THE REST OF TIM’S MESSAGE: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Inauguration 2009 | No Comments »

Torlakson to push emergency school lunch funding

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, will announce emergency legislation to ensure the survival of California’s school meal program, which is projected to run out of funding before the end of the school year.

Torlakson will appear with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell at press conferences on Friday in San Leandro and Los Angeles.

Torlakson, by the way, is running for the job held by O’Connell, who terms out in 2010.

Posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Under: California budget, education | 3 Comments »

Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Lofgren takes Ethics Committee chair: The House Democratic Caucus today approved Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, as chair of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, had announced Lofgren’s nomination earlier this week. Pelosi had said Lofgren “has demonstrated tremendous leadership in her 15 years of service” in the House, including eight years on the ethics panel — a perfect leader to take the chair as House Democrats try to deliver on promises of accountability, honesty, and openness. Said Lofgren: “The American people deserve a Congress that holds their interest above all others. I pledge to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure that the House of Representatives maintains the highest of ethical standards and holds the public interest above all.” Lofgren spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said Lofgren will retain her influential post as chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, as well as her Homeland Security Committee membership.

Click on to read more. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Under: Ellen Tauscher, General, George Miller, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

Tom Campbell: ‘Business Guru’ and candidate

I received an e-mail advisory that Tom Campbell — the former South Bay Congressman and former dean of the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business — will be speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California next month. The e-mail’s subject line calls him a “business guru.”

“The economic crisis leaves many people wondering if the United States and, specifically, California, will be poised to lead the world in the 21st century. What kinds of opportunities arise out of dire economic times? Will California be the place to do business in the 21st century?” the release asks, adding Campbell “will break down the economic imperatives of the state and nation” and “will describe what needs to be done to ensure California succeeds in these uncertain economic times.”

Read on for more. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Under: 2010 governor's race, General, Tom Campbell | No Comments »

One Oaklander’s view of the inauguration

Oakland resident, East Bay Municipal Utility District attorney and longtime Democratic Party activist Joel Freid was at the inauguration yesterday, and has been kind enough to share dozens (!) of photos he took during his trip to Washington, D.C. I’ve culled out a few (click on ’em to enlarge) that seem to give a good flavor of the experience.

Here’s Freid’s view of Sunday’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial:

Visiting with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, during her pre-inaugural bash at the Rayburn Office Building on Monday:

See more of Freid’s photos after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Under: General, Inauguration 2009 | No Comments »